CIO50 2020 #6: Roger Jones, Auckland Transport
Roger Jones holds a C-level role at Auckland Transport (AT), as executive general manager technology, which also involves being the co-executive leadership team lead of the customer and innovation committee.
These roles define the strategy and approach he and his team have taken at AT, the Auckland Council controlled organisation responsible for transport projects and services across the Auckland region.
The executive leadership team provides AT with a holistic view of what is happening across the organisation, and works to identify possible overlaps, as well as any opportunities to collaborate, he says.
“My role is to promote technology as an enabler, to translate the risk factors versus business outcomes versus value for money.”
He uses this setting to secure endorsement and ensure that the business technology (BT) projects are prioritised correctly and aligned with AT’s organisational strategic objectives.
The case management model
A recent major programme of his team was to overhaul the organisation’s 10-year-old case management model.
Auckland Transport identified the need to evolve the platform to meet the changing shape of Auckland City and needs of the organisation, as well as reduce total cost of ownership, he says.
Jones says an assessment, using human centred design, showed customers often received inconsistent outcomes when interacting with Auckland Transport.
Due to the changing shape of the city, Auckland Transport set out to achieve a consistent customer experience centred around empowering staff and customer friendly language.
“We had to work with key business stakeholders from across Auckland Transport to simplify, transform and standardise our complex business processes to be delivered using a unified, customer centric approach,” he explains.
Key to the project’s success, was ensuring the enhanced case management model seamlessly interfaced with Auckland Transport’s existing external systems to minimise any changes required.
The project entailed a “cultural business transformation”, he states.
AT chose a 95 per cent out of the box case management model with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 system. Using the out of the box model, AT lowered the total cost of ownership and streamlined the upgrade process, allowing the organisation to take full advantage of this new functionality.
The case management transformation began in October 2018 to meet a range of business objectives. Among these are to change AT’s behaviour and enable frontline teams to focus on achieving the customers’ outcomes in a repeatable and consistent manner. An enhanced single view of the customer was also developed across their different products and services such as HOP card sales and transactions, direct debits and identity information.
The project resulted in consistent and transparent business reporting across all business units, through a set of standardised management reporting Power BI Dashboards.
“To achieve this outcome, we ran a major change management workstream in order to embed the cultural changes and retrained more than 600 people on the new business processes in just over three weeks”, says Jones.
“The Customer Central (CC) digital transformation programme, which business technology started in 2018, continues,” says Jones.
Designed to ensure an ‘effortless’ customer experience, the programme lists three complementary projects to improve the way customer requests are handled by AT’s contact centre operators, and the quality and speed that information is served via AT’s customer portals, apps and website.
The CRM Project creates a single view of the customer, enables better customer self-service and increases employee productivity. This is done through improving systems and business processes across AT.
The Real-time and CRM projects resolved the backend processes and systems by simplifying the 1,300 business workflows used across AT to 7, and unifying the 3,000 customisations in the CRM platform to 11. The complexity, built into the platform over time, vanished and savings gained as system upgrades went from three months to three days.
The Real-time Project shares real time passenger transport information via a range of internal and external channels. It enables the public to make decisions about their travel choices on the go, and assists contact centre operators to answer customer queries as they arise, rather than providing delayed responses (as was previously necessary).
Project Haystack makes it easy to find information across AT’s document management systems and collaboration platforms.
It reduces time wasted searching for documents, facilitates customer self-service through online channels and assures compliance with regulatory requirements.
Project Haystack, in particular, underpinned AT’s ability to be customer-centric, says Jones.
“It helped us overcome the challenges associated with managing the large and continually growing volume of information stored in our document management systems and collaboration platforms, now numbering eight million,” says Jones.
“If information can’t be found, customers’ questions can’t be answered. To achieve our ‘customer at the centre’ goal, AT needed to think differently about how they handled customer requests and managed documents across the entire organisation,” says Jones.
Front-line staff had to become ‘problem solvers’ rather than ‘call takers’. To do this AT needed to:
Streamline the process of finding and talking to the right people, in the right department.
Ease the process of finding information to resolve a customer’s query.
Ensure information was tagged with relevant access rights, so staff didn’t need to seek permission to release information.
“To do this we had to remove the ‘human’ factor from backend system processes, business information workflows and content management.”
One of their initiatives was working with Auckland-based Pingar for their content management system. AI, machine learning tools and business language libraries are embedded in PingarBot, enabling automatic tagging of content with high-quality metadata.
He says the benefits include creating a more user-friendly, non-disruptive experience for users when saving files. They no longer needed to follow established recordkeeping practices when saving documents as the bot did it for them. Analytics detect what documents users store where, even in personal OneDrives, and alerts users who store these incorrectly.
The three BT projects are an evolutionary step forward in helping AT stay customer-centric, says Jones.
“They are innovative, improve business efficiencies and foster innovation and team collaboration, internally and externally.”
Over the past two years, the transformation programmes helped resolve customer queries faster and more effectively, and reduced the number of calls into the contact centre.
Staff were empowered to take ownership of the decision-making and problem resolution process.
Overall, it protected the organisation against reputational damage, loss of IP and knowledge; and allowed it to comply with statutory obligations as a Council-Controlled Organisation (CCO),” says Jones.
A high trust environment
Jones has created a high trust environment that allows business partners to form true partnerships with AT and contribute to the overall success of Auckland City.
His vision is shaped by his daily experiences as an Auckland resident and commuter.
When he travels for work, Jones ensures that he takes public transport.
“I am always looking to learn new ways of delivering improved services that will enhance the lives of Aucklanders and visitors to Auckland City.”